Some Mean Coffee

When Elma was on her tour of Finland, she visited Stockholm for short while crossing the Gulf of Bothnia by ship. Elma is my Great-great-Aunt, and I have been sharing bits and pieces of her travels and her writing. The ferry over is still the typical way to travel from Finland to Sweden, but last week we decided to fly with my sister Kaija, who is currently on her tour of Europe. Taking the ship across takes the whole day or night, depending when you leave and we felt we just didn’t have that extra time. In addition, plane tickets were actually less expensive.

tukholman matkaWhen Elma had been on the ship, she had ordered “Kalt Watten” at dinner but the waitress did not understand and brought mineral water.

I requested normal water and one gentleman came to help. He interpreted and asked if I would like drinking water and I answered, “Of course, I do not wish to bathe.” She then brought me water, but it was not cold. This man was a Swedish journalist, who had been in Finland writing about the Lapua movement (which was a radical nationalist and anti-communist movement and was banned after a failed coup-d’état in 1932.) He praised Finland but was happy to get away. Although he had visited Finland many times, he felt they were brusque. I told him that the Finns were the best, the most honest, solemn and as deep feeling as can be, but that for their own protection they have a hard shell into which they escape. But once you break the shell and win their trust, you will have a friend for life. He laughed and said that I have been sold to my own nationality, but did admit that what I said was true. A nut is sweet to eat if your teeth do not first break biting into the shell.

gamla stan

Elma did not write of what she might have seen in Stockholm, as it seemed like she was in a hurry to get back to Finland. She only had a couple more days after returning before her boat to America was scheduled to leave. And so I will share something of what we saw and experienced.

kings castleIt had been years since I had been in Stockholm last, 17 to be exact. We were with a group of teenagers focused more on having a jolly time instead of actually enjoying the city. I remember that some of us tried to make guard at the Royal Palace smile or lose composure. I think that we did not succeed very well. This time I just took photos like all well-behaved tourists.

kungsträdgården cherry blossoms kings garden
Just the beginning of the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården, The King’s Garden

Before our trip, I sent Marissa from Miss Marzipan a note asking her for suggestions of where we should go. I received a whole list of wonderful suggestions. We only made it through some of them, giving a good excuse to plan a new trip in the future. I could imagine that my older girls would absolutely love the Drottningholm castle and gardens and everything there is to see. Perhaps we will make a mother-daughter trip there sometime, as Stockholm is really quite accesible from Finland.

airbnb södermalmKaija had reserved us a room through airbnb, which is a service on the internet that people may rent out rooms from their home or even an entire flat. This time we had a room and our host Siwa, made us feel so welcome and comfortable in her cozy apartment right in the heart of Södermalm. I really like the vibe in Södermalm which is full of old building built in the 1700s. We saw parks full of moms giving their babies a ride in the swings and lots of dads pushing their little ones in perhaps Emmaljunga prams. I saw several nice looking second hand shops and we stopped in one. I really liked the fact that they had made an effort to organize the used clothing by color. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed at the flea market when everything seems to be in one giant unorganized pile, that I almost do not know where to start looking. I suppose that is a skill that some just naturally acquire and others have to practice.

RödaKorset Hornsgatan 54
RödaKorset Hornsgatan 54

In all truth, we didn’t really shop at all, but at one point we needed directions to the pharmacy and so we decided to stop in a shoe store that almost seemed like it was calling our name. It became an expensive way to find the way to the pharmacy as we both left with contemporary wooden clogs, made in Sweden. And I love them.

Miss Marzipan suggested that we check out some of the local coffee shops and much to our delight a couple of them were situated not far from our home away from home in Södermalm. The following places serve up wonderful coffee. Loved the window seats at Johan och Nyström’s. It’s the perfect way to people watch and check out whats going on in the street. One benefit of traveling outside of traditional tourist season is that you are able to observe everyday life as people come and go to work, spend time with their families and run errands.

Johan och Nyström Concept Store Swedenborgsgatan 7
WJohan och Nyström Concept Store Swedenborgsgatan 7

Just as we were getting up to leave from Johan och Nyström’s an older gentleman biked up to the window. His bike had a dog bed in front of the handlebars and his dog sat in it all well behaved. He lifted his dog down and soon they were inside ordering a cup of coffee.

Drop Coffee Roasters Wollmar Yxskullsgatan 10
Drop Coffee Roasters Wollmar Yxskullsgatan 10

Drop Coffee Roasters is just a stone’s throw away from Johan och Nyström’s and is a place that would be perfect for a little meeting or for doing work outside of the office. There were several rooms and nooks and crannies. That is the beauty of old buildings. They are comfortable and have a charm that newer buildings just don’t seem to have.

Mean Coffee Vasagatan 38
Mean Coffee Vasagatan 38

Normally I do not drink coffee since I am so sensitive to caffeine, but I made an exception on this trip. I had a cup at Mean Coffee and Johan och Nyström’s. The flavor was smooth and tasted wonderful since I rarely am able to have such a treat. At Drop Coffee I had their ginger tea, made from real ginger and tasted quite similar to the ginger tea I have been making. It was the perfect thing to have after having caffeine. Mean Coffee is situated in the downtown area and is small but well designed. Everything is proportionate so it felt comfortable. The menu was quite simple, but effort had been put into the quality. For example they had two different smoothie options instead of six. I had their avocado spinach smoothie and it was lovely. And they do serve a cup of Mean coffee. Go try it, I promise you’ll like it.

Brandstationen Hornsgatan Vintage Shop
Brandstationen Hornsgatan Vintage Shop

evening sunset and the trains


  1. Oh! I’m so wishing to have been with you both. And the last photo of the sunset, skyline and the lights from the train just beautiful!
    Love, Grampa

    1. Oh, how we would have enjoyed your company! We even found a bakery that reminded us of Wuollet’s and had our first breakfast there and ended up sitting there longer than what we had initially planned. ❤

  2. It’s been awhile since I have read your beautiful blog. This post was exceptional. I love your narrative and your photographs are stunning. I felt like I stepped out of Seattle and into Södermalm. Nice to visit you today. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much TWC 🙂 I must admit that I have not made my rounds in the blog world quite as regularly lately…life has been a little busy. I did so enjoy your recent recipe and will be using it for inspiration on a day when inspiration disappears. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I can only imagine how much fun you 2 had on your adventure. I shall ‘echo’ Grampa’s comment…the pictures all are great…another wonderful entry in your blog…hugs…

  4. I really enjoy your posts, I have never been to Stockholm would love to one cay and think I would just love Sodermalm. Lovely photo’s and sounds like such a fun trip. I rent out part of my home through Air BNB also. It’s such a great service.

    1. Yes, I think you would really like Södermalm, Suzanne! Do you ever feel nervous when you rent out your apartment since you cannot really know who is coming? I’m still very new to the whole system, but my first impression was very positive.

      1. Yes I do, this was my first time doing it and the first person was amazing. I have a Japanese girl coming in today speaks no English and I am nervous r about her she sent me a grocery list expecting me to cook for her daily I had to politely say that’s not part of the deal. This is all being interpreted. I don’t know what to expect when she arrives today.

    1. I’ll share a few more places on my next post…this post would have just been too long if I would have included everything 🙂 I did not plan/requiest a meeting with Miss Marzipan this time, although it did come to mind. Hopefully next time! It would be lovely to meet her 🙂

    1. Hi Brenda! I believe you are right, coffee does connect the world…or at least amongst coffee geeks 🙂 I hope you a have chance to visit Stockholm some day. Certainly worth a trip.

  5. What lovely pictures and stories. How great that Elma visited Stockholm, if briefly. Hers was sort of the reverse from my 2013 visit to Scandinavia–mostly Sweden, but an overnight trip on the Viking Line to Helsinki for a day (unfortunately cold, grey, and rainy). For me the Helsinki highlight was lunch at Kappeli and then fika at Johan & Nyström Oy: I had a blueberry and licorice tart. Really unusual. Though most of all I really love Stockholm. Being able to speak Swedish makes it extra special, of course. Some lovely restaurants are Stortorgskällaren in Stortorget in Gama Stan (perpendicular at the left if facing the red and orange cafes in your iconic Gama Stan photos above)–my best meal in Sweden was there, and those Stortorg cafes are great, too, for large bowls of lattes, inside or out. I’m fond, too, of Ragnars Skafferi in the city hall–just a buffet lunch, but great on Thursdays for pea soup and pancakes after a tour of city hall. And the views of the city from there are so glorious. You are so right about the lovely cafes and shops in Sodermalm. So wonderful. Glad you had a splendid visit.

    1. Hi Matthew! Thank you for all of the restaurant suggestions, I’ll have to look them up next time around. We visited some nice restaurants as well and enjoyed lunch at the old market hall. My next post is about the places we ate. We never made it to the city hall, just admired it across the water. I have heard from more than one that the Fotografiska museum and café would be a place to go as well. Lovely that you were able to use your Swedish. I have never studied Swedish, but was pleasantly surprised that I understand quite a few of the signs etc. just from reading Swedish signs in Finland.

      I hope the sun shines on your next trip to Helsinki, everything looks so much more beautiful that way. Although clouds do make for nice photographs. I could even show you around a bit if you would like. 🙂

      1. That would be wonderful! 🙂 When I was in Stockholm the guards at the Royal Palace did lose their composure. There were VIPs arriving by horse & carriage to see the king and some other tourists crossed into the path or came too close to the guards standing along the way, with some heavy duty weapons by the way, and we heard a loud shout “HALT” and the tourists were ordered to retreat. Startling to be sure, but an experience to remember.

  6. We loved Stockholm when we visited a couple of years ago. It is beautiful, and I even have photos of some of the same places you have! We loved the city, the people, the coffee and the food and if I didn’t still have so many places to visit for the first time, I’d go back there in a minute! I’m very far behind in my blog reading at the moment–but thoroughly enjoyed this one, Laila. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for giving me a look into Stockholm, it is such a beautiful place to visit – really enjoyed this post, and I apologise for being a little MIA!

    Choc Chip Uru

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